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Switch to Forum Live View I'm new here and need some help!
7 years ago  ::  Feb 16, 2008 - 11:23PM #1
kkl24
Posts: 2
Hi everyone!  I'm here to find out a bit more about paganism and the religions under that umbrella. I'm a spiritual person with a wide range of beliefs and I'm trying to see if there is a label that fits. I took the religion quiz on this site and got a 100% match for (neo)paganism. I know that it's not an answer to all my questions and it might not be an automatic fit, but I thought it would be a good place to start.

I was raised in a Christian family but quickly discovered that I disagreed with many of the guiding principles.  Here are some of the basic things that I believe in.

1) I believe that there is a higher power but that it is not necessarily restricted to one god. There is a power or life force that may manifest as one god or many or that may not manifest at all. Part of that power lives in all humans and in the Earth itself

2) I believe in reincarnation. Having nothing after death seems so wasteful to me. Redoing life until we learn all we need to knows resonates better. I also believe that once you achieve great knowledge after many rebirths, that then there is some kind of afterlife

3) I believe that there is no Satan or other evil deity. I think that there is human nature and that people may have the predisposition to be selfish or selfless but ultimately each person also has the ability to make choices. People can make bad choices and give in to baser desires which leads to suffering.

4) I believe in personal choice where abortion, divorce and gay marriages are concerned.

5) I believe in trying to be a pacifist and harming only in self-defense

6) That you don't need to be in a holy building to worship or to retain your spirituality. It's great to find a group of like-minded people but it is equally good to find inner peace, while solitary.


Does anyone have any ideas of what might work for me? Thank you for reading and for helping!!!

K
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7 years ago  ::  Feb 17, 2008 - 12:20PM #2
CreakyHedgewitch
Posts: 1,244
K,

Welcome to Beliefnet and the Paganism Forum. 

The quiz is a place to start but it doesn’t do much more than match up generic answers to generic questions. The best place is always to start with one's own beliefs, as you have already noted.

After twenty-five years as a self-identified Pagan, the only commonalties I have observed are these. Neo-/Pagans self-identify to this term. Neo-/Pagans self-define what Neo-/Paganism means to him or her. The source of validation for what a Neo-/Pagan believes in is almost universally experiential. And finally, outside of established religions (already named) who use the term Neo-/Paganism as an alternate name or autonomous groups, Neo-/Pagans cannot agree sufficiently to define ‘a’ religion called Neo-/Paganism.

As Neo-/Paganism is self-defined, it is up to you if all the points you listed fit under the label of Neo-/Paganism or not. Not everyone is going to recognise all of these as valid or as part of his or her self-definition but that is really a given when dealing with Neo-/Paganism. As you asked for feedback, from a general perspective:

1) Many Neo-/Pagans tend to be polytheists, believing in multiple distinct gods that may or may not be considered manifestations of a higher power. Some find that concept insulting when applied to his or her gods but there are Neo-/Pagans who do believe in an ubergod or life force or the Source as one of my friends calls it. Immanence is a pretty common concept though usually considered universal, not just found within one single planet and one species.  Just don’t assume another Neo-/Pagan has that same definition of the divine and you’ll be fine.

2) Reincarnation is not a mandated belief even in the Neo-/Pagan religions and certainly not copyrighted to such as that belief is found in other religions, notably Hinduism and Buddhism where it originated. Though one must be careful because Western interpretations are not the same thing as Eastern. It is really left up to the individual to decide. I’m a past life healer so I obviously include that in self-defining how I am a Neo-/Pagan but there are many more who don’t.

3) Evil is another concept that is left up to the individual and not mandated within the spectrum of Neo-/Paganism. So you’ll find Neo-/Pagans who think as you do and others that don’t. Evil deities are quite common through human history and to this day so it is useful to study why a culture or religion needs to have an evil deity in the first place. Perhaps that is why Neo-/Pagans often know more about the historical evolution and theological context about Satan than many Christians.

4) All of these are individual personal choices and they are only relevant to how you self-define Neo-/Paganism. Again, don’t assume that other Neo-/Pagans will believe in these but you will find those that do.

5) There has been a lot of hype about the Rede (which has been adapted throughout much of the Neo-/Paganism spectrum) but the Rede doesn’t actually mean harm none and also it’s a moral guideline, not a rule. The result though is an association with pacifism and Neo-/Paganism that isn’t universally true. You’ll find all takes on this and a lot of gray areas with no answers amongst Neo-/Pagans.

6) A belief that can be found in various spiritual/religious paths, not just Neo-/Paganism. I’m not sure if you are referring to the concept of ‘Sunday Christians’ or not here. Are you? As in, a Neo-/Pagan isn’t judged by whether they attend shared worship pr not or that a Neo-/Pagan must be seen amongst like-minded folks in order to be considered spiritual?
Now most Neo-/Pagans will agree that finding inner peace is an essential personal goal whether one is totally solitary or engaged in shared worship. Although what inner peace translates into will vary depending on whom you ask. Most if not all will also agree that you don’t have to be anywhere specific to worship or enact your spirituality. And that any space and place can be made holy by intent and focus and action. 
However any form of shared worship does bring with it a degree of judgement simply because in order to recognise someone else as engaged in the same shared religious practice as you, that someone has to be doing and be seen to be doing the same things that you are. Consider this, if someone is part of a religious group and they are not there or are never there participating with you and everyone else as they agreed to do, then why would you continue to consider them part of your group?

Just one final comment that perhaps may be useful. Eclecticism is a term originally from an ancient Greek philosophical movement where each philosopher studied as widely and deeply as he could and whatever he could and then respectfully incorporated the best (or what resonated the best) back into his personal spiritual practice. The term tends to get misused and knocked around a bit within Neo-/Paganism notably as used with someone who skims the surface. Ironically the very opposite of what it originally meant. There are also a few shared traditions that use the term to denote that they are loosely structured but most Eclectic Neo-/Pagans tend to be individuals. Understandably so perhaps as the diversity of what is self-defined and marketed as Neo-/Paganism draws widely and deeply from many sources, past and contemporary. So you may want to consider that as a label if you think it fits.

Not sure if any of that was helpful but I hope you find something useful. 

C.H.
No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.
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7 years ago  ::  Feb 23, 2008 - 12:34AM #3
kkl24
Posts: 2
Thanks a lot Creaky Hedge... It definitely answered some of my questions and gave me some more questions to find the answers to. I'm going to keep researching and see what happens :)
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7 years ago  ::  Feb 23, 2008 - 3:47PM #4
CreakyHedgewitch
Posts: 1,244
Glad something in all that was useful.

Strength to you on your wisdom walk.

C.H.
No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 02, 2008 - 10:09AM #5
CLHazz
Posts: 94
Creakyhedge, thank you for your words of wisdom and for clarifying what neopagan is and how to practice. The belief-o-matic had neopaganism at the top(number 1) and that seems to fit, however generic the answers. Self definition? I never even thought about that, I have always been looking to someone else for those answers or a book which further confuses me. So let me get this straight... the person doesn't need someone to define them or their beliefs and you can make practicing paganism indvidualized? Like picking the parts that fit with you andyour lifestyle? Am I getting it right?
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 02, 2008 - 6:38PM #6
CreakyHedgewitch
Posts: 1,244
[QUOTE=CLHazz;326757]Creakyhedge, thank you for your words of wisdom and for clarifying what neopagan is and how to practice. The belief-o-matic had neopaganism at the top(number 1) and that seems to fit, however generic the answers. Self definition? I never even thought about that, I have always been looking to someone else for those answers or a book which further confuses me. So let me get this straight... the person doesn't need someone to define them or their beliefs and you can make practicing paganism indvidualized? Like picking the parts that fit with you andyour lifestyle? Am I getting it right?[/QUOTE]


You are welcome and I'm glad it was helpful to you.

As to your question, you are agreeing with what I posted so I would say that yes, you are getting it right.  :)

Let me put it this way in a long run-on sentence. Until self-identified Neo-/Pagans can sufficiently agree amongst themselves to create a singular shared definition of Neo-/Paganism that is universal or sufficiently widespread to be considered relevant to many Neo-/Pagans AND/OR a shared definition that is not about an already named religion (ie.Wicca) or shared traditions (i.e. Pagan Witchcraft Trads), then defining paganism must by necessity remain at the individual level. Therefore, you don't need someone else to define you or your beliefs as a self-identified Neo-/Pagan unless you decide to give that someone the right to do so. It remains the individual's responsiblity to choose whatever he or she finds that fits within his or her beliefs, lifestyle and practices. Whether one ends up creating a coherent and enduring spiritual practice or simply a philosophy to live by remains up to that individual.

Does that help?

C.H.
No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.
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6 years ago  ::  Mar 07, 2008 - 2:13PM #7
CLHazz
Posts: 94
Yes that really does help me a whole bunch.
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